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45 Years of Acting Up: Friends of the Earth and Indigenous Solidarity gatherings 1997 and 1998

Indigenous-solidarity-land-protestFriends of the Earth podcast history series made in collaboration with 3CR 855 AM community radio show Acting Up!Monday 2:00pm-2.30pm.  Ratbags, peaceniks and agents of change, resistance radio that explores the movements that made us. 

45 Years of Acting Up!! Indigenous Solidarity gatherings 1997 and 1998

Presenters: Em Gayfer & Megan Williams.  Guests: Anthony Amis, Jim Green

FOE Australia meet and work on stolen lands of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and respect that sovereignty of those lands was never ceded.  We pay respect to Elders, past and present, and acknowledge the pivotal role that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the Australian community.

Warning: this page contains images and voices of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away.

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Key moments in Friends of the Earth’s Indigenous solidarity gatherings 1997 – 1998 and beyond

Over 50 Indigenous leaders from across Australia were speakers at the 1997 and 1998 Indigenous solidarity gatherings bringing more than 600 people together.  Aboriginal leaders called for education and unity, resistance and system change, their spirit strengthened relationships and inspired grass-roots campaigners to listen and learn, reminding everyone how important it is to look after people and country.  Indigenous Sovereignty is at the core of FOE’s work campaigning in solidarity with Aboriginal activists on anti-nuclear, anti-mining, forest protection, indigenous human rights, water and land rights and continues into the 21st century.

1980 FOE campaigns on anti-nuclear proliferation, peace and disarmament issues concerning Indigenous Australians. 

1982 FOE Brisbane community protests against retrogressive land rights legislation. 

1983 FOE Melbourne works with the Aboriginal Mining Information Centre campaign stopping leach mining of gold in Victoria.

1983-1984 FOE leads South Australian blockades at Honeymoon & Roxby Downs uranium mines with the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Aust.

1985 Campaign against uranium mining in Kakadu.

1986 FOE and the Movement Against Uranium Mining occupy the Uranium Information Centre, Melbourne.

1988 FOE moves to Brunswick St, Fitzroy creating a community arts space, the gallery exhibits Indigenous art from central Australia and the western desert region.

1990 FOE Melbourne starts to Pay the Rent to Aboriginal traditional owners, FOE Australia in 1993.  Uranium shipments from Roxby Downs blockaded in Adelaide.  First FOE Radioactive Exposure Tour to South Australia. Campaign alliances with Indigenous communities against sand mining on Minjeribah - North Stradbroke Island, Queensland. Logging blockades in Western Victoria.

1994 FOE Melbourne works with the Kerrup Jmara community to set up a tent embassy in the main street of Portland, Victoria to protest endemic racism against the Aboriginal community and discrimination around policing and the provision of health services.

1996 FOE Brisbane re-forms after a core group campaign to stop sandmining on Minjeribah - North Stradbroke Island, taking on anti-nuclear and indigenous issues, coal and coal transport, CSG, and more.

1997 First FOE Indigenous Solidarity Gathering held.  Aboriginal-led Alliance Against Uranium mining forms in Alice Springs, now called the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA).  FOE provides secretariat for annual ANFA meetings and alliance projects.  FOE and allied groups continue to oppose sand mining on Minjeribah.  FOE national campaign to protect Goolengook forest, East Gippsland, Victoria.  Support to the Mirarr people to oppose the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine in Kakadu, Northern Territory.  Anti-uranium mining campaign first action camp held at Jabiluka, building into a mass protest movement across Australia. FOE co-ordinates buses for travel to Kakadu from capital cities, and supports base camp.  FOE leads the organisation of the ROXSTOP festival at the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia and in the township of Roxby Downs gaining community opposition to uranium mining.

1998 FOE Melbourne hosts the Indigenous Solidarity Conference, a gathering of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists from around Australia.  Many delegates travel to the Barmah forest to an Indigenous-only strategy session hosted by the Yorta Yorta community. 1999 FOE participates in a Yorta Yorta occupation of the Dharnya Cultural Centre in Barmah State Park, elders request support to regain management of traditional lands, FOE Melbourne's Barmah-Millewa campaign is born.  FOE connects with senior Aboriginal women of Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, fighting the federal government's plan to build a national radioactive waste dump in South Australia.  FOE launches the Nuclear Freeways Project to generate awareness of proposed radioactive waste transport through NSW and SA. 16 of the 18 councils along the transport route oppose the transport of radioactive waste, leading to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry and report.

2002 The Dharnya Alliance, a collaboration between the Yorta Yorta Nation representatives, green and social justice organisations is formed, FOE organises the first 'Barmah summit' providing secretariat support for the alliance.

2003 FOE joins with traditional owners and allies to oppose a large open-cut gold mine in the Lake Cowal region of mid-west NSW. FOE nominates the Kungka women for the Goldman Environmental Award, the 'green Nobel prize'.

August 2003 Rio Tinto/ERA mining company give up and rehabilitation of the Jabiluka mine site begins.

2004 Howard government abandons plans to impose a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.  FOE's Radioactive Exposure Tour meets up with senior Aboriginal woman from Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta.

2007 Kokatha-Mula woman Sue Coleman Haseldine, from FOE affiliate West Mallee Protection, wins the SA Premier's Award for excellence in indigenous leadership in natural resource management.

2008 FOE works with the Latin American Solidarity Network and alliances to hold an Indigenous Solidarity Gathering in Melbourne, focusing on Latin America, Asia and the Pacific, including Indigenous representatives from Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Melanesia and the Pacific Islands.

2011 'Leave it in the Ground' ride against uranium mining gathers momentum with FOE Adelaide activists cycling from Port Augusta to the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.  Plans for mining in the Sanctuary are later banned by the SA State government.

2013 Building on successful campaigns to protect River Red Gum forests and secure environmental flows through the Murray Darling Basin Plan, FOE Melbourne's Barmah-Millewa collective develops an advocacy campaign for Indigenous water rights. Two 'Cultural Flows' films are produced with Traditional Owners of the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers showing Indigenous people's deep connection to water and country.

2019 Queensland Labour Government passes controversial legislation to end sand mining on Minjeribah - North Stradbroke Island by the end of the year.

2020 Friends of the Earth Melbourne: mobilise - resist – transform

Join the River Country collective
Stand in solidarity with Traditional Owners in their fight for sovereignty and co-management of their land and water. 

Join the ACE Nuclear Free collective
ACE Nuclear Free Collective hosts events and workshops to promote a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons, to amplify the voices of Indigenous communities directly impacted by the nuclear industry and to educate people about nuclear and peace issues.

Volunteer with Friends of the Earth Melbourne


The late Mr Yami Lester (photo by Jessie Boylan)

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